Trump's ex-lawyer Michael Cohen arrives at federal prison to start three-year sentence

"There still remains much to be told, and I look forward to the day that I can share the truth," the president's former lawyer said.
Image: Michael Cohen, U.S. President Donald Trump's former lawyer, leaves his apartment to attend his sentencing at the United States Court house in the Manhattan borough of New York City
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer, leaves his apartment in New York on May 6, 2019.Jeenah Moon / Reuters

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By Adam Edelman

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer and fixer who pleaded guilty last year to an array of white-collar crimes, arrived at a federal prison in upstate New York on Monday to begin serving his three-year sentence Monday.

Cohen gave a brief statement to reporters outside his New York City apartment Monday morning before jumping in a waiting car to travel to the Federal Correctional Institution, Otisville, a large federal prison complex in the Catskills region.

"I hope that when I rejoin my family and friends, that the country will be in a place without xenophobia, injustice and lies at the helm of our country," Cohen told reporters. "There still remains much to be told, and I look forward to the day that I can share the truth."

Cohen checked in at Otisville, about 75 miles northwest of New York City, just before noon on Monday. He had been required to report by 2:00 p.m. ET.

NBC News' Kathy Park reported that the process of Cohen's arrival and check-in was "orderly."

At Otisville, Cohen joins other quasi-celebrity criminals like "Jersey Shore" star Michael "The Situation" Sorrentino — who pleaded guilty to tax evasion — and Fyre Festival organizer Billy McFarland, at what the Associated Press has described as the “the closest thing the federal prison system has to sleepaway camp.”

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Once ranked by Forbes magazine as one of "America's 10 Cushiest Prisons,” the Otisville complex is actually two federal facilities — a medium-security prison and a satellite camp for non-violent offenders like Cohen — with a total of about 800 inmates

The complex, tucked in the green and peaceful environs of the Catskill Mountains, has amenities like tennis courts, horseshoes and cardio equipment and gives inmates the opportunity to sleep in bunks lined up in barrack-style halls, instead of individual or two-man cells like in higher-security facilities. According to the AP, there are lockers to store personal belongings, washers and dryers for laundry, microwaves to heat up food and ice machines to keep cool. The facility, about 30 miles west of a pair of ultra-Orthodox communities, is also known for its Kosher food and Shabbat services.

Another prominent inmate at Otisville is former NFL defensive back Darren Sharper, who is serving a 20-year sentence in the medium security prison wing for a rape conviction, while the roster of past inmates includes disgraced money manager Kenneth Starr, who was convicted of running a huge Ponzi scheme, and ex-Connecticut Gov. John Rowland, who served time on corruption charges.

Once Cohen enters the complex, his first stop will be at an admissions and orientation unit, where he'll undergo medical and mental health screenings. He'll also be assigned a job, receive a set of prison-issued clothing and bedding and towels.

He'll soon take on the prison’s daily schedule: Lights on at 6:00 a.m., followed by breakfast. Work duties, such as mowing the grounds or cleaning up the prison, are performed from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., with a break for lunch at 11:00 a.m. Dinner is served beginning at 4:15 p.m. and lights out at 11:30 p.m. On the weekend, inmates get to sleep until 7:00 a.m.

Cohen's arrival on the prison grounds marks a breathtaking reversal of fortune for the ex-lawyer, who as recently as one year ago was still in the employ of the Trump Organization.

In August 2018, however, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts, brought by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, of tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations, including two counts related to hush-money payments to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump. Another charge he pleaded guilty to, lying Congress about his dealings concerning a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow, stemmed from special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into the Trump campaign's potential collusion with Russia in the 2016 election.

Michael Cohen looks out the window of his car as he arrives at the Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, New York on May 6, 2019.Seth Wenig / AP

Cohen was sentenced to three years behind bars in December on the charges, which a Manhattan federal court judge called a “veritable smorgasbord" of crimes.

At his sentencing hearing, Cohen — who Trump has slammed as a “rat” — said that as Trump’s lawyer he had “felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds.”

"My weakness can be characterized as a blind loyalty to Donald Trump, and I was weak for not having the strength to question and to refuse his demands,” Cohen said in December.

In February, Cohen testified before Congress in a day-long blockbuster public hearing during which he said, 'I am not protecting Mr. Trump anymore."

“I regret the day I said 'yes' to Mr. Trump. I regret all the help and support I gave him along the way,” he told lawmakers.

Cohen was a vice president of the Trump Organization when he left the company in May. A former personal injury lawyer, he began working for the company in 2007 after helping Trump win a fight with the board at his condominium tower near the United Nations.

Associated Press contributed.